In new locations for the very first time. Today, nature conservationists caught sight of bison in an extended large ungulate reserve

2021 - 07 - 06

Today, the first large ungulates were seen and photographed by conservationists in a new part of the nature reserve in the former Milovice military training area near Prague. This marked the symbolic end of efforts to save this part of the military training area, which has long been ravaged by overgrown aggressive grass species. Or possibly it was caused by inappropriate use, such as intensive grazing of livestock.

The new part of the reserve has been open to large ungulates since June. The animals have gradually begun to explore the area. “Traces of hooves and the first well-trodden paths in the tall grass showed that the animals were already discovering this new part of the reserve. However, due to the vastness of the area, it was only today that we managed to see large ungulates for the very first time and capture them with a camera in these places,” said Dalibor Dostal, director of the conservation organisation European Wildlife.

At first, the conservationists saw a lone bison bull walking through a new part of the reserve from east to west. About an hour later, they saw a group of female bison with calves. The group grazed in the shade of birch groves. “Larger groups of mature trees, in the undergrowth of which animals graze, are among the main advantages of the new part of the reserve,” added Dalibor Dostal.

Hoofprints of wild horses can also be seen in several places of the new part of the reserve. However, conservationists have not yet been able to see a herd of them.

The newly opened part of the reserve has an area of ​​about 120 hectares. The total area of ​​the large ungulate reserve in the former Milovice military training area has therefore reached approximately 352 hectares. The new part of the reserve of large herbivores is a real European rarity. “It is on the eastern part of the reserve that visitors can finally get a glimpse of bison in the company of wild horses in a system of meadowland larger than any other in Europe,” noted Miloslav Jirku from the Biology Centre of the Czech Academy of Sciences.

Expanding the pasture will allow for the preservation of larger areas of ungrazed herbaceous vegetation during periods of vegetative dormancy. “This is very important because many invertebrates—including pupae of butterflies, solitary bees and other pollinators—hibernate in these seemingly unnecessary islands of dry vegetation, which also provide shelter to partridges, for instance, at times when open meadowland biotopes fail to provide many hiding places.” emphasised Miloslav Jirku.

The reserve in the former Milovice military training area is not European Wildlife’s only project. The organisation has also established another reserve for wild horses in the Podyjí National Park near the Austrian border. It has an area of ​​about 63 hectares. In total, this conservation organisation maintains almost 420 hectares of grazing reserves for large herbivores. It has participated in the establishment of seven other reserves in Central Europe by providing them with additional animals raised in its herds free of charge.

A public fund-raising campaign was held last year to complete the reserve. Thanks to huge public support, we managed to obtain the necessary funds. “I would like to thank all the people who have contributed to the preservation of this unique countryside. Without their support, the new part of the reserve would never have been created,” said Dalibor Dostal, appreciating the help of donors.

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